Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, adding a little "like" button to Web pages. We’ve all seen star ratings and "Diggs" and thumbs up and all of that. So why is it a big deal that last week Facebook announced that it was spreading its "like" button out to the entire Web and calling it an Open Graph?

Because now the things people like are being aggregated in one place. Putting all the things customers like in one central place, where they are being easily and automatically shared with their friends via wall posts, etc., really magnifies the importance of a "like" to marketers.

Socially, I think we use other people’s likes and dislikes as a sort of short-hand to figure out if we want to know more about them. Sort of how you might find yourself perusing items at a dinner party of an acquaintance: What sort of books do they have? What sort of magazines are lying around? What’s in their music collection? We use these objects as clues to whether we might like them or not.

We take an interest in what others are consuming or choosing to own and display. Some content people have is mildly polarizing and causes discussion. Some content is super-polarizing and might make people uncomfortable. And other content is so benign that it’s pretty much ignored.

The problem with most existing ratings systems is that their impact and importance is typically in a silo belonging to someone other than the person who is doing the rating. Giving something a "thumbs up" on a ratings site doesn’t carry any social benefit for the user.

Instead, the thumbs up serves as a sort of public feedback for the site publisher. This is true of pretty much all ratings systems out there: they don’t benefit the person doing the rating nor do they communicate anything to the friends of the person doing the rating.

I’m sure many of you have a trusted adviser for some sort of media that you like: a friend you ask about new music to listen to, or books to read, for example. That person probably reads more than you or listens to more music than you and you trust their judgment.

Is a property the same thing as a book? Or a blog post?

So what does all of this have to do with real estate marketing online? All of the people reading this who are on the sharp end of the real estate profession — the agents, the brokers, the franchises — are marketing something that is, when reduced to content for the Web, pretty much the same as a book or a piece of music.

Homes are obviously "liked" quite a bit and for a wide variety of reasons (architecture, location, neighborhood, price, size, features and so on). Many of you have websites featuring houses and have added features to your site for people to indicate that they like some of them. For example, they want to be notified of changes, or save them to a list of property to look at, etc. …CONTINUED